Victims Of Crime
VICTIMS OF CRIME
The Hon. CARMEL TEBBUTT: My question without notice is to the Attorney General, Minister for Industrial Relations, and Minister for Fair Trading. Will the Attorney advise what measures are being taken by the Government to ensure that stakeholders in the provision of services to victims of crime have a voice in the planning and provision of these services?
The Hon. J. W. SHAW: Honourable members would be aware that the Victims of Crime
Bureau was established in April 1997 pursuant to the provisions of the Victims Rights Act 1996. Since September 1997 the bureau has conducted interagency forums. Those forums include representatives of a range of government and community agencies that provide services and/or referrals and education about victims’ needs and services. The primary objectives of the forums are: to consult about specific operational issues, to exchange information about services and remedies, to facilitate a whole-of-government approach to the delivery of services to victims of crime, and to discuss implementation issues concerning the charter of victims’ rights.
Policy issues raised by the forum are referred to the Victims Advisory Board for its consideration. Three subcommittees have been established to review specific policy areas and initiatives involving the provision of services to victims. A court support in New South Wales subcommittee has been established to review the range of court support services in this State with the aim to ensure the provision of consistent and high-quality court support services to victims of crime. The subcommittee is developing a consultation document on court support services which will examine the current state of these services and the ways in which they can be improved.
A subcommittee has been established on policies and procedures for counselling services for victims of crime. A resource development subcommittee has been formed to investigate the feasibility of producing a video to assist staff in government departments and other agencies to help individuals who are required to attend court as a result of being a victim of crime, and those who are supporting victims of crime, through the court process. The interagency forums and subcommittees provide a good illustration of the Government’s commitment to work with the community to ensure that the support services provided to victims are efficient, co-ordinated and relevant.
Over many years a lot of rhetoric has been heard about victims of crime. The Government has taken practical steps to involve them in the criminal justice process to ensure that they have a say, and to make sure that they have a charter of rights so that they are consulted and informed by the police and other law enforcement agencies, including the Director of Public Prosecutions. One thing that has always been a mystery to me about the former Government is the curious enactment of legislation about victim impact statements which was never brought into force and effect.
Perhaps I should peruse the files and discover why the curious anomaly occurred of the Liberal Government putting victim impact statements into the legislation but not having the will to proclaim the law. The Labor Government has put victim impact statements into the criminal justice system with a statutory charter of victims’ rights.
The Hon. J. M. Samios: Do you think our initiative was good?
The Hon. J. W. SHAW: I acknowledge the sincerity of members of the Opposition who say it is a good thing. I do not want to be too partisan, but it is an enigma why it took so long and why this Government had to include victim impact statements in the legislation.